As summer fades into fall, the question of what to drink becomes a little harder to answer. Refreshing drinks like the Aperol Spritz start to sound a little less appealing, but we may not be entirely ready to dive head-first into the wintry flavors spirits like bourbon and Scotch can impart. To bridge the seasonal drinking gap, we asked bartenders about their favorite transitional cocktails. Here’s what they said.

The best transitional cocktails, according to bartenders:

  • Spritz
  • Sours
  • Hot Toddy
  • Mojitos with dark rum
  • Aranciata mule
  • Margarita with aged tequila
  • Amaro
  • Vieux Carré
  • Negronis
  • Whiskey sour
  • Boulevardier 

“I’ve never met a spritz I didn’t like, so my super-easy, crowd-pleasing, all-season cocktail with street cred is a local amaro with a dry sparkling wine. My go-to at the moment is Brooklyn’s Faccia Brutto Gorini with a squeeze of lemon and Prosecco. It’s bright enough for summer, but the complexity of flavors of the amaro gives it an autumnal richness. You can change up the garnish seasonally with lemon or berries for summer vibes and brandied cherries for fall feels.” —Emi Guimond, beverage director, Public Display of Affection, New York

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“For me, summer-to-fall cocktails mean sours are coming back. Egg white drinks start becoming more appealing, and sours with a bit more heft to them — like a New York Sour — tend to have more appeal as we head into fall. Baking spice flavors like ginger, cinnamon, and more ‘comforting’ flavors will also begin to appear. You can almost see the onslaught of pumpkin spice cocktails on the horizon.” —Guillermo Bravo, beverage director, The Kimpton Gray Hotel, Chicago

The Hot Toddy is a go-to cocktail to kick off fall, according to bartenders.

“The Hot Toddy! Consisting of bourbon or brandy, honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon, this drink is guaranteed to warm you up as the nights chill. I also like to throw a cinnamon stick and a twist of orange rind in mine!” —Norman Downs, bartender, FYC Kitchen + Bar, Burbank, Calif.

Mojitos are a go-to cocktail to kick off fall, according to bartenders.

“I like to play with classic summer cocktails but spice them up with darker spirits and simple [syrups]. For example, I’ll make a large batch of Mojitos. But instead of white rum and cane sugar, I will use dark spiced rum and rich Demerara, even throwing in toasted pineapple to merge those warm baking spice flavors of fall with the bright mint and lime of summer.” —Maddie Kaye, bartender, Bern’s Steak House, Tampa, Fla.

“When I am hosting friends and family, a refreshing yet quick go-to cocktail is some variation of a Vodka Mule: a Jalisco Mule, a Kentucky Mule, and so on. I always try to elevate this basic recipe with seasonal flavors of fruit and herbs. My ideal transition recipe from summer to fall is my Aranciata Mule. Blood orange is readily available during fall, so I [infuse it] into my simple syrup, and finish the base with a teaspoon of fresh ginger, fresh sage, and rosemary.” —Alvaro Calle, executive bar director, Ditas, Sausalito, Calif.

A Margarita is a go-to cocktail to kick off fall, according to bartenders.

“The first one I would make would be a classic riff on your regular Margarita, but I would switch the tequila for something more aged like a nice Don Julio Añejo. Having the tequila aged for two  years adds more of a fall flavor with hints of caramel, oak, ash, and maybe some burnt notes to it. A spritz of mezcal on the top would be nice, too, just to heighten the smokiness of the cocktail and take your mind to a campfire setting.” —Bob Gorman, bartender, Jiwa Singapura, McClean, Va.

“The close of summer fun and the start of autumn frenzy is a bittersweet period, which may be why I find myself reaching more often for various amari when mixing a drink around this time of year. Lower ABV than most spirits, there is an amaro at a sweetness and bitterness level for every person and cocktail application. We’re playing around with the Cappelletti Pasubio at present, which is a fun vino amaro with wild blueberry undertones, which is great with soda and a splash of lovage or rhubarb syrup.” —Chris Struck, beverage director, ilili NYC, New York

The Vieux Carré is a go-to cocktail to kick off fall, according to bartenders.

“Being a Midwesterner, summer into fall might be my absolute favorite time of year. For me, I love a classic Vieux Carré! It is a beautiful, stirred cocktail that has the warming qualities of Benedictine and rye whiskey, but is still refreshing from the vermouth and brandy. I will sip on these day and night during those beautiful Midwestern late summer and early fall nights!” —Alex Cuper, beverage director, El Che Steakhouse & Bar, Chicago

The Negroni is a go-to cocktail to kick off fall, according to bartenders.

“I’m a big fan of Negronis. In the summer, I like to lighten things up with a White Negroni, or switch it up to a chuggable Americano. When the cooler temps start to hit, I’m really into using Barr Hill Tomcat. It’s an American oak-barrel-aged gin from Vermont. It adds a woodsier and warmer feel to a Negroni. I also like to swap out Campari for Cynar in this one! These variations are always in rotation at home for my husband and I.” —Emily Shore, general manager and beverage creator, The Crooked Ram, Manchester, Vt.

The Whiskey Sour is a go-to cocktail to kick off fall, according to bartenders.

“I find a sour cocktail to fit any season, and this time of year is Whiskey Sour time! This drink will still refresh you on warm days, but we’re officially dipping our toes into whiskey season.” —Randi Savage, bar manager, The Morningside Room at RT Lodge, Maryville, Tenn.

The Boulevardier is a go-to cocktail to kick off fall, according to bartenders.

“I’m a big fan of the Boulevardier; it’s built like a Negroni, but with your favorite whiskey in place of gin. It reminds me of the transition time between summer and fall: you still get all the brightness and bite that Campari brings to a summertime Negroni, but with the warming heft of whiskey that we generally associate with the colder months.” —Mike Liay, bar director, Jester Concepts, Minneapolis